I discontinued my ambitions
Subtracted what displeased her,
Molded into her wants,
and even convinced myself into believing her wants
were my wants.
Until I realized I was dying every day
to have her
Being with her was
a cycle of consensual suicide
And that’s what I’m learning.
That there exists love that is self-less
and then, there exists the kind that makes you
become less our self.
– Nashiha Pervin
In Western society, the idea of gender separation is often looked at as old-fashioned and behind the times. Male and female friendships are commonplace and totes norm.
But can a girl and a boy ever truly be “just friends”? In my opinion…no. Keep in mind, this is only my story and how things worked out for me. Perhaps you have your own situation that’s shaping up differently than mine, or maybe you relate with what I’m saying. Either way, I know this is definitely a sensitive and debatable topic. There are no right or wrong answers, or experiences.
It seems so innocent, right? At least it does before someone (inevitably?!) catches feelings…before the butterflies in the stomach, before the mind starts wandering to them in every waking moment, before the flirty text messages and phone calls…
This is a topic that lies very close to my heart for many reasons. Just like many other girls out there, when I was younger, I was always the one to hang out with the guys. Cars, video games, and action movies attracted me much, much, more than dolls and tea parties.
Naturally, I carried this behavior with me as I got older. Unlike my older sister who was always aware of the interactions she had with the opposite gender, I was pretty much uninhibited and carefree with the guys. Although any physical contact, including high fives and punches were off limits, I didn’t shy away from laughing, carelessly talking, and joking with them–in my mind, I believed that I was just like them. I can’t tell you how wrong I was.
My journey to the self-realization that I wasn’t “one of the guys”–a life-changing one at that– began in the summer of 2014, right before my sophomore year of high school.
My family was planning to visit a family friend we had not seen in ages. As soon as we arrived, it was not long before I quickly clicked with my childhood friend, who happened to be of the opposite gender.
Our friendship was an innocent one filled with mutual interests, encouraging moments, and intense debates. But this perception I’m painting was only 1/4 of the truth–the rest of it was strained, awkward, and stressful. It evolved from emailing to texting, and from there, grew very quickly into “good mornings” and “good nights.”
A friendship between a guy and girl is one that starts off seemingly innocent enough; after all, you’re “just friends.”
As I realized though, no one really knows where the true intentions lie. This is exactly how I fell into it, and it was only later that I realized the path I was headed down. It was blatantly obvious to those around me that this guy began to develop feelings for me; my own sister and friends would say as much whenever I brought him up.
I didn’t feel the same…at least I wasn’t sure if I did or not. Soon though, at the beginning of Ramadan, as I began to realize how wrong our exchanges were, I understood that if I carried this friendship any further, I would be intentionally committing a sin, putting the purity and goodness of both myself and this “friend” on the line. We were just two carefree teenagers. How did we know any better?
Ramadan is a time for reflection and change. It is a time that brings us back to God, when we can realize the mistakes we have made, and we are given the chance to mend our ways. Fear can enter the heart during Ramadan, when Shaytan is not found tampering with our actions and thoughts. The person you are during Ramadan is one controlled truly by the real you, or in other words, your nafs–the inner self.
The spirituality of Ramadan manifests into reigning in the Wild Horse of the Nafs, realizing our purpose on this Earth, and making it our personal mission to please nobody else but God through prayer and good deeds.
People are obviously different, and many of my Muslim friends do have guy friends that they are very close with and have not had my particular experiences. But for me, personally, I’ve realized that a relationship between a woman and a man can be nothing but professional if I am to be true to my faith.
This is the sunnah; it is clearly evident in our dear Prophet’s life (pbuh) that he did not have any close female companions that were not his wives. This is not purely coincidental.
In my last conversation with this friend, he said something that stayed with me to this day: “Happiness dies out over time, but peace is absolute, either you are or you aren’t…”
As for intimacy–well, our Lord has made that easy for us through the act of marriage, which gives us the security of real love and commitment.
When I was in that haram relationship, it was a different sort of feeling. At first, I felt happiness–butterflies in my tummy, feeling invincible, feeling like I can’t get enough of him–but over time, I noticed that I was missing inner peace, because in the back of my mind, there was always the quiet, nagging, awareness that what I was doing isn’t right. And how fleeting–or true–is happiness without inner peace?
The next time I get close with a man, it will be done the halal way–so that I can enjoy the rights and protections marriage offers, with its love and commitment — the way I believe God has prescribed for us.